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Considered the “Hawaii of Europe” at 900 to 1,200 miles (1,400-2,000km) west of the Iberian Peninsula, the Azores are a hidden Atlantic oasis. Uninhabited until the 15th century, this far-flung archipelago was created by volcanic eruptions and is as mountainous as it is geologically diverse — its quiet beaches only disturbed by the sounds of whales and dolphins.
We recommend hiking to the above sea-level lake of Lagoa das Furnas, visiting the ornate chapel of Nossa Senhora das Vitórias, or travelling through the Japanese cedar lined roads of São Miguel. Or, you can even head below the surface and scuba to see rays, turtles, and moray eels in the bay, marlin and tuna along the peaks of submerged volcanoes and underwater cliffs, and the many shipwrecks that line the seafloor.